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Foreign Law Research Guide: Cuba

Online Resources


Listed below are selected commercial and free Web-based online resources that contain information on Cuba. Although this compilation was crafted to emphasize law-related sources, it also includes websites for general background information and statistics, human rights research in the Cuban context, and current awareness. Both Spanish- and English-language sources are listed. 

This collection of resources does not constitute an exhaustive list, but rather an attempt to recognize core sources. In addition, other sections of the Guide reference potentially valuable online sources for Cuban legal research that may not be listed below. As indicated throughout the Guide, the availability of Cuban-based websites may be intermittent and their overall reliability uncertain. For a comprehensive research guide to Cuban law, please refer to Guide to Cuban Law and Legal Research, 45.2 International Journal of Legal Information 76-188 (2017).

  1. Background Information and Statistics

There are multiple online sources where researchers can obtain factual background information on Cuba. Listed here are the CIA World Factbook and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which are among the most well-known sites that provide country information. Cuba’s national statistics agency also has a useful website, although all information there is available exclusively in Spanish.

This source provides U.S. government profiles of countries and territories around the . The Factbook includes information on Cuba’s geography, population, government, legal system, economy, energy, transportation, communications, etc. A brief history of Cuba, beginning with the arrival of Columbus, is also offered.

The EIU, which is part of the United Kingdom’s Economist Group, provides a constant flow of analysis and forecasts on more than 195 countries and six key industries. The site is designed to help executives make informed business decisions through dependable intelligence and customized research. For Cuba, the EIU offers basic data, fact sheets, information on politics, the economy, and investment risks, along with various reports and analysis. Recent articles mainly focus on Cuba’s relationship with the United States.

This government agency’s website is designed to help and support Cuban government functions, such as the establishment of policies and plans in political, economic, social, and environmental areas.Like the U.S. Census Bureau, this agency provides data and statistics for multiple sectors, including finance, employment and wages, construction and investment, transport, health, and tourism. Data from Cuba’s provinces is also provided.

  1. Research Guides

Online legal research guides provide great starting points for foreign law investigations. Generally created by law librarians, these guides often provide introductory material, explanations of a jurisdiction’s legal system, suggested research strategies and keywords, and links to primary laws and select secondary sources. The following electronic guides offer direction for researching Cuban law—aggregating and describing available print and online tools.

  • Foreign Law Guide (Brill)

This subscription database is a staple in the area of foreign legal research. Included are brief overviews of the legal systems of about 190 jurisdictions, as well as lists of each jurisdiction's codes, court reports, and other significant legal literature.  Even if the entry for Cuba has not been updated since 2013, and does not reflect the recent recovery of U.S.-Cuba relations, it does offer a useful overview of the country’s legal system and a helpful summary of Cuban law by topic.

This free legal database provides foreign, comparative, and international law research guides. Globalex is updating quickly every two years, and as more authors are contributing, it becomes more comprehensive. As of 2016, it covers more than 160 countries, 16 comparative law topics, and 63 international law topics. It also contains a short research guide to Guban legal resources.

This free legal database provides a wide variety of research guides, including international and foreign law guides as well as U.S. federal and state law guides. While it covers most countries of the world—about 240 countries—, it works more like portals with annotations. More detailed information such as research strategies, key terms, history, and government information is missing. Cuba is also included with hypertext links to the websites which contain Cuban Constitutions, executive, judicial and legislative information, legal guides, and general information on Cuba.

  1. Legislation

The following list includes online sources for locating official texts of current Cuban law, as well as unofficial English translations. Not included in this list is GLIN (Global Legal Information Network), a free database that once provided an excellent English-language digest of Cuban laws (1976-1999); it is unknown whether this valuable source, formerly hosted by the Law Library of Congress, will reappear in any form.[1] For an alternative source of historical legislation, see the description below for LLMC-Digital under “Subscription Databases.”

The official website of the Cuban legislative body provides the texts of laws. If you click the link that says “Documentos Legales” on the homepage, you will find the laws adopted by the National Assembly and Decreto-Ley (decree-laws) approved by El Consejo de Estado (the Council of State). The website covers laws from 1977, starting with Ley No. 1 (Law No. 1), and Decreto-Leys from 1977, starting with Decreto-Ley No. 1.

The Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba is the official publication for legislation passed by Cuba’s National Assembly. It includes laws, decree-laws, decrees, and resolutions issued by various governmental agencies, along with various Supreme Court documents. There is no English-language equivalent of the Gaceta. Issues dating back to Jan. 2, 1991 are posted, but it should be noted that access to this site in the past has been inconsistent and still remains cumbersome. Copies of the Gaceta are available as .rtf files, rather than in digital PDF format.

The “Legislación Cubana” link on the left side of the page leads to the Constitution, as well as the Código Civil Ley No. 59 (Civil Code), Código de la Familia Ley No. 1289 (Family Code)—reflecting the modifications up to 1994—, Código de Comercio de la República Ley No. 1236 (Commercial Code)—reflecting modifications up to 2003—, and the Código Penal Ley No. 62 (Criminal Code)—reflecting modifications up to 1999. Links to individual pieces of legislation, such as the Ley de Medio Ambiente (Environmental Law), the Ley de Migración (Immigration Law), and decree-laws, including the Decreto-Ley Sobre el Arrendamiento de Viviendas (Decree-Law on Rental Housing) are also posted.

This recently launched subscription database provides English translations of laws of about 95 countries. Instead of regulations, it focuses more on legislative acts.It also contains Cuban law. While it is not comprehensive, as of 2016, the database includes about 79 Cuban laws in English. It doesn’t yet include civil and criminal codes.

The International Labour Organization populates and maintains NATLEX, which is a database of country-specific labor legislation.Full texts or abstracts of the laws are included, and in some instances, English translations. As of this writing, under the heading of Cuba, there are 235 records arranged by subject, including freedom of association, elimination of child labor, employment policy, conditions of employment, occupational safety and health, and social security. Most of these documents are only available in Spanish.

This free internet database contains laws, regulations, case law, and secondary source materials related to trade and investment for countries in the Americas. Most of the materials are in Spanish, although many English translations are available. Access to the majority of the database's content is by subscription, although some free materials are offered. Non-subscribers may purchase English translations of individual documents.Within “Browse NatLaw Database,” select “Filter by Country,” and then Cuba.The search yields 492 documents as of this writing.

This free internet database covers cultural heritage laws from about 195 countries, important international instruments and documents, and glossary. Member states are required to submit their laws in force and any modifications to the UNCESCO. This database covers 19 Cuban laws in Spanish—Ley, Decreto, Decreto-Ley, Resolucion, and Bilateral Agreements relating to cultural property and cultural heritage protection such as Ley No. 1, Ley De Protection al Patrimonio Cultural (Law No. 1 on the Protection of the Cultural Heritage) (1977). It ranges from 1976 to 2008.

This fee internet database covers intellectual property laws from about 190 countries, related treaties from the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations, and glossary. The member states of the Paris Convention and the Berne Convention and the WTO members are required to submit their intellectual property laws to their responsible organs, and the WIPO Lex compiles these. Sometimes, laws are directly submitted to the database. About 65 Cuban laws in Spanish, including Ley No. 14 de Derecho de Autor (Law No. 14 on Copy right) as amended in 1994, are included.

Several non-profit regional legal information initiatives created and now maintain WorldLII, which is a free website.  The site offers legal subject-based links for individual countries. Unfortunately, Cuban materials are basically linked to the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), which is not available at this moment. While the coverage starts from 1950 and all the links are not working, the links from 2002 to 2008 provide a good  index function to find laws, decree-laws, decrees, resolutions and proclamations by titles.

  1. News & Current Awareness Sources

Although the Cuban press is highly restricted and controlled,[2] there are numerous Cuban newspaper and news agency websites that can be valuable for locating information on legal developments. Along with the sources listed below, worth mentioning here are the national newspapers Granma, Juventud Rebelde, and Trabajadores that all have multilingual or bilingual websites.[3] Also noteworthy is Dow Jones’ subscription database Factiva, which will search the Web contents of a variety of regional Cuban newspapers, including Escambray (Sancti Spíritus), Invasor (Ciego de Ávila), and Sierra Maestra (Santiago de Cuba). Utilizing a free Web-based news aggregator like Waazon is also an excellent way of tracking legal and political developments on the island as reported through international media.

ACN is the Web division of the Agencia de Información Nacional (National Information Agency), which has served as the country’s official news service for almost four decades. ACN provides news stories in Spanish, English, French, and Russian, with the Spanish version providing the most content. The website includes a dedicated search box.  Note that NewsBank’s subscription database Access World News currently covers ACN content in English from 1997 through 2015. 

Organized by the Cuban journalists, the website is designed to exchange information on any subversive actions and defamatory campaigns against Cuba. While this database may reflect a country bias, it contains a garden variety of news, blogs, and opinions on politics, economy, culture, sports, health, science and technology, environment, media, military and intelligence, and society. It provides articles with eight different languages: Spanish, English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Portuguese, and Arabian.

  • Cuba News (Westlaw)

The content of the Cuba News database in Westlaw is provided by NewsRoom.The English-language service provides business and economic information relating to various topics, including banking, biotechnology, e-commerce, manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, real estate, telecom, and tourism. Coverage as of this writing spans from January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2014.

This nonprofit digital media organization seeks to realize the rights and well-being of Cuban citizens. Based in Carol Gables, Florida, CubaNet has provided news, reports, and documents related to Cuba since 1994. The website, which is in Spanish, offers free daily email updates, a searchable news archive, and a small collection of IGO and NGO materials pertaining to Cuba. 

This free online publication, compiled by Law Library of Congress personnel, provides legal news and developments relating to foreign countries, including Cuba. The site is browsable by jurisdiction, and regular updates are available via RSS feed and email.

  1. Indexes

Online legal indexes are effective tools for locating law-related articles.  Fee-based electronic indexes, such as those listed below, may be useful in identifying both scholarly and practitioner-oriented articles on Cuba.

  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) (American Association of Law Libraries)

IFLP, which is available via HeinOnline, indexes over 500 legal journals published worldwide. Most indexed articles on Cuba are published in the Revista Cubana de Derecho and international law journals from the United States. At the time of this writing, there are 345 articles related to Cuba listed in the Index. The majority of these are in Spanish.

  • Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective  & Index to Legal Periodicals: Legal Periodicals & Books  (H.W. Wilson Company)

Covering 1908-1981, Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective is an archival database that “indexes nearly 900 legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.” Post-1981 legal articles are picked up by another H.W. Wilson index that covers more than 1,000 publications. As of this writing, in both databases combined, there are about 220 articles on Cuban-related topics.

  • LegalTrac (Gale)

This database allows users to search more than 875 titles, including academic law reviews and journals, specialty law and bar association publications, and newspapers. Coverage starts in 1980. As of this writing, there are references and some full-text links to about 45 articles under “Cuba” as an indexing term. Most of these articles appear in U.S. periodicals.

  1. Other Legal Subscription Databases

The short list below includes two resources that are useful for historical research of Cuban law—LLMC-Digital and the Making of Modern Law. Useful for more current information is the well-known vLex, which is a multilingual database of legal texts, and HeinOnline’s various collections. Not listed under this category are the major online U.S. legal databases, Lexis and Westlaw. Collectively, these services offer minimal coverage of Cuba, except for articles appearing in law review and news databases.

  • HeinOnline

HeinOnline offers a variety of source-specific digitized collections, including the Law Journal Library. Included in this collection are more than 2,300 law and law-related periodicals.Coverage beings in most instances with first issues.A search on “Cuba” in the title field yields over 500 articles, as of this writing. Other valuable databases in Hein that are mentioned elsewhere in the Guide are IFLP and World Constitutions Illustrated.

  • LLMC-Digital (Law Library Microform Consortium)

This subscription database which contains lots of historical materials started including lots of Cuban legal materials including Cuban Constitutions, legislative acts and codes, and historical treatises. This project is called the Cuban Legal Patrimony Project which is based on the Haiti Legal Patrimony Project.[4] The project is designed to provide a digital safe haven for the Cuban legal materials in order to support the re-establishment and maintenance of the rule of law on the island.[5] As of December, 2016, the LLMC finished digitizing about 20 percent of over 1,000 titles.

  • Making of Modern Law:  Foreign Primary Sources (Gale)

This historical subscription database contains sources from the law libraries of Yale University, Harvard University, and George Washington University. It covers legislative acts, codes, regulations, journals, and commentaries mostly from European countries between 1600 and 1970. It is organized into several categories of administration of justice, civil law, civil procedure, commercial law, criminal law, criminal procedure, customary law, forestry and agricultural law, maritime law, military law, and other codes and commentaries.

  • vLex 

vLex is a commercial legal database specifically focused on foreign and international law.  Based in Barcelona, vLex is particularly strong for European countries and several Latin American nations.  While Cuban law is not included, about 70 Spanish-language articles on Cuban law are available in vLex at the time of this writing; dozens of articles on foreign investment, energy and natural resources, and intellectual property relating to Cuba are also included and have been translated into English. 

G. Other Interdisciplinary Free Internet Websites

This project database was launched in 2002 to research and to provide recommendations for the reconstruction of Cuba. While most search functions are not properly working, users still can find useful information on current and past research studies, foreign investments, political prisoners, and Cuban facts.

The website is designed to provide information on Cuba and Cuban Americans. The institute is promoting research and scholarship on Cuba and collaborating with the organizations in Cuba, trying to develop the library collections on Cuba and Cuban Americans. Research results and reports are found under the “Commissioned Reports”[6] menu under the “Research” heading. Under “Cuba Resources and Links” are hypertext links to various civil organizations, Cuban government websites, online journals and magazines, political organizations, news agencies, research centers, and National Office of Statistics.[7]

The dLOC provides a wide variety of materials relating to Caribbean culture and history. The database includes about 2.6 million pages of news articles, government documents, scientific data and maps, oral histories, literature, musical expressions, artifacts, etc.[8] The library provides text and advanced searches and browsing function, and contains materials in various languages, including Spanish, English, and French. Relating to Cuba, it organized Cuban materials under the wide variety of subject headings such as Cuba, Cuba—History—1959-1990, Cuba-Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Poor-Cuba-Havana, Havana (Cuba), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba)–Newspapers, Cubans, Marianao (Cuba),Neighborhoods—Cuba—Havana, Plazas—Cuba, Plazas—Cuba—Havana, Tourism—Cuba, Cuba—Description and Travel, Cuba—Politics and government, Cubans—United States—Newspapers, Dwellings –Cuba, Cuba—Social life and customs—Periodicals, Havana (Cuba)—Pictorial works—Periodicals, Havana (Cuba)—Sports—Periodicals, and Streets—Cuba. Under the Cuba subject heading, 37,381 items are included.

EcuRed is a Cuban Wikipedia-like encyclopedia launched in 2010. Although entries are written from a Cuban government perspective, this is a good starting point to structuralize and understand Cuban legal sources.  See, for example, the entries on “derecho” and “doctrina.”

This is the website maintained by the Attorney General of the Republic of Cuba. The main mission of the office is to monitor state agencies for its compliance with the Constitution, laws and other legal principles. It includes a virtual library (Biblioteca Virtual) which provides various informative bulletins including Boletín Informativo, Boletín Legislativo, Folleto Indisciplina Social, Illegalidades, Contraversiones y Delitos, Folleto de Igualdad, Derechos y Deberes, and Folleto Divulgativo Familia y Menores.

This fee-based digital library is provided by HathiTrust which is a partnership of academic and research institutions, providing millions of digitized materials from all over the world. It has more than 150 partners who are contributing to this collection.[9] Under the subject headings of Cuba, Cuba politics and government, Cuba foreign relations, Cuba History, Fidel Castro, Communism Cuba, and Cubans, catalogue information on more than 17,000 materials in various languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and German are available. Under the subject heading of Cuba only, full texts of more than 2,700 are available.

This is a websites that provides broadcasts from Radio and Televisión Martí, which is an American radio and television broadcasters located in Miami, Florida.This is funded by the U.S and transmits news and programs in Spanish to Cuba. Various news on Cuba is also available from this website.

This is the website of the law school of the University of Havana, the oldest university in Cuba. The law school started with the university in 1728. The law school also has a library which provides a digital catalogue. The website provides useful links to various legal websites, such as Official Gazette, Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice.

  1. Human Rights

Human rights conditions of Cuba suddenly started changing from 2014. Responding to the U.S. President Barack Obama’s active gestures toward Cuba, Cuba released 53 political prisoners and agreed to permit human rights experts on its territory in 2014.[10]  This lead to the restoration of the U.S. and Cuba diplomatic relations in July 2015.  Furthermore, since Fidel Castro, who had governed Cuba from 1959 to 2008, died on November 35, 2016, a human rights situation in Cuba is expected to improve more under his successor, Raul Castro.[11] While the lives of many Cubans may get better with more freedom of speech, assembly and other basic rights, many journalists still believe that there needs significant improvement and implementation in those human rights.[12] Journalists are frequently subject to arbitrary arrests and short-term or long-term detention after.[13] People criticizing governments are still experiencing harassment and “acts of repudiation.”[14]  Independence of the judiciary and fair trial with due process are still far away.[15] Prisons are overcrowded, and twelve more political prisoners are still detained.[16]  The access to information, including internet and websites, is severely restricted.[17]

While Cuba signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[18] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[19] in February, 2008, it still did not ratify the treaties. Cuba also represents the regional at the UN Human Rights Council.

Amnesty International, headquartered at London, UK, .is a non-governmental organization striving for the improvement of human rights all over the world by investigation and exposure of facts since 1961, and has an ultimate mission to make human rights enjoyed by all.[20] It has also been linked to UN through the ECOSO Special Consultative Status since 1964. Amnesty International does investigate and research human rights situations of countries, including Cuba, and produces annual human rights reports and publishes on its website.

The U.S. Department of State annually publishes reports on human rights conditions in many countries that are receiving U.S. financial assistance or are United Nations members. Current reports on Cuba examine the country’s human rights conditions in depth. These studies treat such matters as the arbitrary deprivation of law, detention conditions, arbitrary arrests, criminal procedures, worker rights, transparency, and other absences of civil liberties and political rights.

CubaLex is the center for legal information in Cuba, specializing in human rights issue and providing free legal advice. The website provides blogs on recent human rights developments in Cuba. In September, 2016, the Cuban police burst into the headquarter of CubaLex which experienced a serious civil rights abuse.[21]

Ladies in White is a group of women from Cuba who are fighting for the release of their family members imprisoned due to political reasons.

Freedom House is an U.S. independent non-profit organization striving for freedom and democracy around the world.[22]It is researching, analyzing, lobbying, and launching actions against dictators and oppression.[23] Freedom House produces country reports which contain freedom status, freedom scores and ratings as well as quick facts.According to its report, Cuba is not free, and got very low scores for political rights.[24]

Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is a non-Governmental human rights organization, and has about 400 staff members around the world.[25] Human Rights Watch has a headquarter in New York, and has a special consultative status with UN ECOSOC. Human Rights Watch investigaties human rights conditions and situations of about 90 countries and publishes World Report annually.[26] It investigates and reports on Cuba.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”) is a principal organ of the Organization of American States (“OAS”) and was established to promote and protect human rights in America in Washington, D.C. Cuba restored the OAS membership in 2009. The IACHR produces country reports and produced 44 reports including Cuban reports on 1983, 1979, 1976, 1970, 1967, 1963, and 1962. It also adopts precautionary measures and recently in July, 2016, requested to adopt precautionary measures for human rights defenders in Cuba.[27]

Refworld is a well-developed online database, maintained and populated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that focuses on human rights in the context of refugee and asylum law. The content includes treaties, travaux préparatoires, domestic laws and cases, country profiles, reports, and commentaries. Researchers can browse by country. For Cuba, the database contains numerous documents published by such organizations as the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and Reporters without Borders. Most materials are available in English.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (“OHCHR”) is an organ under the UN Secretariat, and was established to promote and protect all human rights. Its websites maintains many useful databases which include a wide variety of international instruments, documents, and reports from UN Charter-based bodies, including Human Rights Council, and treaty-based bodies, including Human Rights Committee (“CCPR”), Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“CESCR”), Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”), Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”), etc.Especially, Universal Human Rights Index provides country-specific human rights information from the UN human rights mechanism including the Universal Periodic Review, the Special Procedures, and treaty-based bodies. About 675 documents on Cuba are contained in this database.

[1] There is currently an initiative for a GLIN 2. See

[2] See

[3] For a comprehensive list of Cuban newspapers, see

[4] LLMC Digitizing Cuban Primary Legal Sources, LLMC Digital, (last visited Nov. 29, 2016).

[5] Id.

[6]Commissioned Reports, Cuban Research Institute, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[7] Cuba Resources and Links, Cuban Research Institute, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[8] Digital Library of the Caribbean, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[9] Welcome to HathiTrust!, HathiTrust Digital Library, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[10] Cuba: Events of 2015, Human Rights Watch, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[11] Christine Armario & Anita Snow, Imagining Cuba’s Human Rights Situation after Fidel Castro, ABC News, Nov. 27, 2016, 3:57 PM), (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[12] Id.

[13] Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/2016: The State of the World’s Human Rights 132; Cuba: Events of 2015, Human Rights Watch, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[14] Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/2016: The State of the World’s Human Rights 132.

[15] Human Rights Watch, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[16] Id.

[17] Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/2016: The State of the World’s Human Rights 132.

[18] Status of Treaties, United Nations Treaty Collection, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[19] Status of Treaties, United Nations Treaty Collection, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[20] Who We Are, Amnesty International, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[21] Amnistía Internacional llama a una “acción urgente” para proteger a Cubalex, Cubanet (Nov. 21, 2016), (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[22] About Us, Freedom House, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[23] Id.

[24] Cuba, Freedom House, (last visted Nov. 30, 2016).

[25] Human Rights Watch, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[26] World Report 2016, Human Rights Watch, (last visited Nov. 30, 2016).

[27] Inter-Am. Comm’n H.R., Resolution 37/2016 (July 3, 2016),